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Wegmans, Sports Complex Projects Move Forward In Albemarle Despite Concerns

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Albemarle County's Planning Commission gave the green light to two major projects on Tuesday night.  The new 5th Street Shopping Center, now called 5th Street Station, and a new soccer complex will now head to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors for review.

Planning commissioners voted to allow the Monticello United Soccer Club, or MONU, to move forward with their complex at the intersection of Route 29 and Polo Grounds Road, but only if MONU developed a plan to deal with potential traffic.  However, that agreement didn't keep neighbors in Carrsbrook from speaking out against it.

"Traffic and noise from this development is one more reason why it should be denied," Carrsbrook Homeowners Association President Dean Wenger said.

MONU Board Member Dan Ivory says the club will be relatively small and only host games played by MONU members.  He says they'll be able to control traffic by strategically scheduling games and maybe even hiring a police officer to direct traffic at peak hours.

"Since the games are the only ones going on at MONU Park, then like we were promising to do, which we will do, we can adjust the games for the local traffic situation," Ivory said.

"That's hocus pocus.  That's not a real plan," Wenger said.  "A real plan is addressing the fact that right at that light, traffic is already backed up.  This will only make it worse."

Commissioners also voted to allow developers to move forward with the planned Wegmans shopping center, newly named 5th Street Station, despite county staff concerns about a nearby landfill.

"We'd like to see the exposed waste covered up, basically, so it's not a danger to public health, and it's not an eyesore," Albemarle County engineer Glenn Brooks said.

Staffers want developers to pay to remediate those potential effects, by completely sealing off any exposed parts of the former city dump.  However, that's more than the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is asking developers to do.  According to developers, the DEQ only asked that the dump be fenced off.

During the meeting, a spokesperson for Riverbend Management and S. J. Collins, the two companies behind the new shopping center, said the adjacent landfill did not pose any health or safety risk to neighboring communities.  Still, they say they're ready to work with the county and move on.

"We're going to move the project forward because nothing's happening right now and what we need to do is fix a problem that this community created when the landfill went in," Riverbend Management Vice President Alan Taylor said.

Developers also agreed to spend $100,000 to make the nearby Willoughy subdivision accessible to pedestrians.  That's a substantial increase from the $25,000 originally proposed.

Everything approved by the planning commission still needs to go in front of the board of supervisors.  No date has been set for when Tuesday night's items will make it in front of supervisors.